By Izayah Morgan
The latest controversy in Florida education policies began in January when the DeSantis administration stated that an Advanced Placement (AP) course on Black history would not be approved meaning that the state of Florida would no longer give the option of AP African American Studies to its students.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has since doubled down on his controversial decision, stating that teaching Black history is still required in Florida schools, but according to PBS, the AP course amounted to “indoctrination” in his opinion.
This course included controversial topics such as queer studies and abolishing the prison system. PBS stated further in their report that the DeSantis administration stated the reason for banning the course was that it “significantly lacks educational value.”
Teaching African American studies requires teaching all about the Black American experience throughout the history of America. This would include queer African Americans as they existed during the Civil Rights era and were just as important to the liberation of African Americans as their heterosexual counterparts.
Saying the reason for banning these classes is because the course “significantly lacks education value” is just flat-out wrong.
There were countless queer civil rights activists, leaders, dancers, and artists, including Bayard Rustin, Ernestine Eckstein, Alvin Ailey, Audre Lorde, Barbara Jordan, James Baldwin, and many others that do not get talked about in the classroom.
Some of these leaders worked with and were advisors of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. such as Bayard Rustin. He organized the 1963 March on Washington and received multiple medals and awards for his work. In his speeches and during his pardon from prison, he would often remark and bring attention to how he and the larger LGBTQ+ community were mistreated by the police for their sexuality.
Understanding how and why LGBTQ+ people were important to the culture of African Americans is valuable and deserves to be taught, not just in the Florida school system, but across the country.
This community helped create and break down barriers for people who look like me and their experiences deserve to be taught!
African American culture is vast in its creations.
Throughout history, African Americans created different forms of music, dance, politics, hair products, agriculture, medicine, etc. The Black queer community was a major part of these creations. Therefore, teaching an AP African American Studies class and learning how queer history was a part of that experience is important.
Banning AP African American Studies is just another step in the lack of education available to individuals in the United States school system. It first started with banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory and then led to this.
Lack of knowledge of history leads to us being doomed to repeat it. This could just be the domino effect of bigger and worse things happening to Black people in the future.
African American history is a part of American history and deserves to be taught.